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Neil Armstrong, First Man On The Moon, Dies

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Neil Armstrong in his spacesuit in 1969. (AP photo) Neil Armstrong in his spacesuit in 1969. (AP photo)
Armstrong in 1969. (AP photo/NASA/Ho) Armstrong in 1969. (AP photo/NASA/Ho)
Neil Armstrong speaks during a lecture in 2009 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. (Photo by NASA/Bill Ingalls) Neil Armstrong speaks during a lecture in 2009 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. (Photo by NASA/Bill Ingalls)

By CBSNews.com

NEW YORK -- CBS News has confirmed Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, has died at the age of 82.

Armstrong was the Apollo 11 astronaut who set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, fulfilling the goal set by President John F. Kennedy just eight years earlier.

Armstrong was born near tiny Wapakoneta, Ohio in 1930. He became fascinated with flight at the age of six. He left Purdue University in 1950 when the Korean War broke out, and flew 78 combat missions as a naval aviator.

After the war, he became a test pilot and flew the hottest aircraft around, including the sleek X-15 rocket plane. He took the powerful craft to 207,000 feet - almost 38 miles - and the edge of space.

He was in the first group of civilian astronauts, and made his initial flight in 1966, aboard Gemini eight.

The preparation for the moon landing included learning how to fly the ungainly lunar module, which would descend vertically to the moon's surface.

After years of training, the moment arrived: On July 16, 1969, a giant Saturn V rocket lumbered off the pad at the Kennedy Space Center, carrying the 38-old Armstrong and crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins.

Armstrong later said that the landing itself was the high point of the mission for him.

Despite the initial fanfare, after the historic flight of Apollo 11 Armstrong remained a humble and intensely private person. He left NASA and taught engineering at the University of Cincinnati and later served on the boards of several aerospace firms.

One of his rare public appearances was at a gathering with Aldrin and other Apollo astronauts to mark the 30th anniversary of their moon landing.

"In my own view, the important achievement of Apollo was a demonstration that humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited," Armstrong said.

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